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Sep 30th
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Film

Reviews and Times

Fade To Black

Fade To Black

Behold—the worst films of 2009

You don’t come across films like Precious and Up In The Air every day—let’s not forget Away We Go—so relish them while you can. In meantime, 2009, while it was a strong year overall at the box office, spawned more than a cluster of clunkers. Take note of the following films—most of them remakes— and then immediately erase them from your memory.

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Reviews and Times

The Liars Club

The Liars Club

Father uncovers hidden family secrets in bittersweet 'Everybody's Fine'

When was the last time you called your folks? You might want to make that call after seeing Everybody's Fine, a wistful drama of family dynamics and the lies we tell ourselves and our loved ones—just to get by. Although the film doesn't entirely resist the urge to tie things up in a neat package, the story is surprisingly schmaltz-free in the telling, mostly rising above easy sentimentality for a thoughtful look at parenting, expectations and disappointment.

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Reviews and Times

RED CLIFF

RED CLIFF

If you don't know anything about Third Century Chinese politics, don't study up on it before you see Red Cliff. One of the strengths of this vast and bloody dramatization of a decisive battle between feudal warlords, at least for the uninitiated, is not knowing who will win the war, or how. The suspense factor is a plus in this two-and-a-half-hour action epic from director John Woo, who, after a career in violent Hong Kong gangster melodramas and Hollywood thrillers, turns to the mystical, martial-arts spectacle. The characters are mythic, the film's visual scale humongous, the bloodletting frequent and exhausting, and there's plenty of opportunity for Woo to show off his trademark explosions.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 3

Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 3

ARMORED Columbus Short stars in this action thriller about a new driver at an armored truck company coerced by his cohorts into joining them in a $42 million truck heist that goes awry. Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, and Laurence Fishburne co-star for director Nimród Antal (Kontroll) (PG-13) 88 minutes. Starts Friday.
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Reviews and Times

Loud And Clear

Loud And Clear

Foster terrific as conflicted war vet in spare, moving 'Messenger'

There are many kinds of collateral damage in warfare. The character played with such stoic complexity by Ben Foster in The Messenger is poised to experience, or at least witness most of them. As the title character in Oren Moverman's rigorous and insightful debut feature, Foster plays a wounded Iraq War vet serving out the rest of his tour back in the States, notifying loved ones that their sons, husbands and fathers have been killed in action.

Scripted by Moverman and Alessandro Camon, The Messenger honors the sacrifices of servicemen and women and their families, while at the same time exposing the true cost of war, and the bitter reality beneath the patriotic hype and hoopla. It also provides a sensational vehicle for Foster, after years as a young male ingénue and second lead, who recently wowed audiences as a psycho villain in 3:10 To Yuma. With the graceful subtlety of his performance in The Messenger, Foster proves he has the presence to command the screen.

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Reviews and Times

Female Troubles

Female Troubles

‘Women in Trouble’ doesn’t quite rise to the occasion

The almost entirely female cast of Women In Trouble tend to be taut, leggy twenty- and thirtysomethings with long, flowing locks, who look great in lacy underwear and high heels. The actresses are made to look so similar in Sebastian Gutierrez's stylized ensemble comedy, it's often hard to tell the characters apart.

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Reviews and Times

Movies & Film Events: Week of Nov. 26

Movies & Film Events: Week of Nov. 26

FANTASTIC MR. FOX Wes Anderson (of all people) directs this adaptation of the Roald Dahl children's story using vintage-style stop-motion animation techniques. George Clooney and Meryl Streep provide voices fo Mr. And Mrs. Fox, whose happy suburban life is threatened when Mr. Fox gives in to his animal instincts and endangers the entire animal community. Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wlson, and Michael Gambon also contribute voices. (PG) 88 minutes. Starts Wednesday.
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Reviews and Times

Buried Child

Buried Child

Demoralized teen finds herself in masterful ‘Precious’

Any politician poised to slash a social services budget should first be required to watch Precious. Lee Daniels’ masterful film shows how the tiniest flicker of compassion, in tandem with a functioning social program, can transform a life of complete degradation into something triumphant. While putting an unforgettable human face on what might otherwise be just another depressing inner-city statistic, the film persuades us that a small community of caring individuals can change a life, even against impossible odds.

The face of the movie belongs to newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, who gives an astounding, adjective-defying performance in the title role. A wary, mountainous, hard-luck Harlem teenager, Sidibe’s Precious has learned to hide her spirit beneath protective layers of flesh and silence. But Sidibe reveals the vibrant, questing self inside the character with grace and a fierce authenticity. This is acting of transcendent loveliness, not to be missed.

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Movies & Film Events: Week of Nov. 19

Movies & Film Events: Week of Nov. 19

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON More trouble brews for star-crossed teens Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire soulmate, Edward (Robert Pattinson) in this second installment of the megahit Stephanie Meyers YA series. The would-be lovers are separated when Edward's concerned family moves him out of town, leaving Bella to grow closer to her werewolf buddy, Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Chris Weitz directs.(PG-13) 130 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch movie trailer >>>

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Reviews and Times

Class Action

Class Action

Schoolgirl falls for older man in impeccable, but uneven 'An Education'

Just because it's an old story doesn't mean everybody's heard it.  As long as there are dewy-eyed young women and dashing older men to pursue them, stories like An Education will continue to play out. Drenched in early '60s atmosphere, and impeccably produced in every detail, Lone Scherfig's adaptation of the Lynn Barber memoir tells a familiar story from the fresh and compelling viewpoint of a very bright, very young woman for whom it is all happening for the first time. The plot may not be entirely credible onscreen, but the emotions involved are explored with honesty, insight, and humor.

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Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

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Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

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Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”